It seems that every school has their own definition of what “Blended Learning” is. At some programs it means putting a student in front of a computer and letting them figure it out on their own, while others just allow computers for typing finished projects. At NexTech we feel that we have figured out the right approach because we center each student experience around the most important part, the student. We use a combination of face-to-face and virtual learning that can be altered to meet the needs of our students as they gain understanding and mastery of the program.
Every student works in a grade level advisory program referred to as seminar. During this time each student works with a mentor teacher who is dedicated to understanding that student. With this connection our goal is to ensure each student has an advocate for them on the campus. This mentor can help support with questions about classes, help plan for college or careers, and really understand what the student is looking for in their life. This is the heart of our program and the core of what we do. We want to involve the student in their high school experience, and this one way we help to provide their voice to the experience.
All of our students start out in our base model of the program, 16 hours of face to face onsite learning combined with 16 hours of virtual offsite learning. This means students are on campus for four hours a day, four days a week in either our morning or afternoon session. During this time students have the ability to sit in on core academic classes that enhance and expand on our virtual course platform. Most students will have two to three classes a day that they will attend.
What happens when a student is not in class? Students will be assigned into one of our “pods” on the floor. This area is supervised by a classroom teacher who is available to support students as they work through classes or look for additional one on one support. Students are able to work through classes at their pace, and by close monitoring families can help to guide student progress in all courses. This means they may choose to work ahead in a particular subject they have a solid understanding of, while seeking out additional support in ones they are less confident in.
When students leave campus they begin to define true blended learning. The virtual aspects of our program allow a student to plan and prepare for their week much like they will in the “real-world” in college or a career. Students can use their calendars to plan ahead for scheduling internships, work schedules, or outside sports and activities. Students should plan to work 2 hours each day when they leave campus daily, so they should have a set schedule for school built into their day.